Shida Kartli is spread in the very heart of Georgia. The region includes 6 administrative and territorial entities: town of Tskhinvali, municipalities of Gori, Kaspi, Kareli, Khashuri and Java. Today, Shida Kartli is an important transit joint from where one can get to any corner of Georgia: its territory is crossed by international expressway and Rikoti Tunnel connecting it with Imereti region. There are many natural, architectural and cultural monuments on the territory of the region. Among them are some outstanding ones: Sioni of Ateni, Church of Kintsvisi, Church of Samtavisi, Uplistsikhe, Rkoni Monastery, Gori fortress, Surami Fortress, Tsromi Church, Kvatakhevi…
Historical fortress in Shida Katli was erected in downtown Gori, on the high rocky hillock. As archeological excavations shows, the first fortified settlement here dates to IV-III cc. BC. Gori fortress had a strategic venue and holding it under control in the Middle Ages meant the establishment of control over the province of Shida Kartli. The fortress was built with cobblestone. The outlines of the fortress are oval, on the southern and eastern parts there are support fences, in the southern fence there is an arch gate. Near here are ruins of a small church. The fortress also had a tunnel for bringing water and a water pool.
In the downtown of Gori there is the House Museum of Stalin. And you should see it! This is the birthplace of the founder of the Soviet Union, world famous dictator Joseph Stalin. The museum was opened in 1939. It consists of several parts:
1. One-story two-room building, constructed with brick and air brick, where Stalin was born and lived until 1883. These rooms maintain family items...
2. Marble protective shelter over this house.
3. Two-story Stalin architecture-style building of museum, with 6 halls. In every hall one can see the exhibits related to Stalin’s biography.
4. Rail car, which served Stalin during his travels, including those to International conferences. (as he was afraid of airplanes).
5. And the last part is a 6-meter bronze monument of Stalin, which was installed in 1952 in downtown Gori, on the square. Later, in 2010 it was dismantled and moved to the courtyard of the museum as an exhibition.
85 km away from Tbilisi and several km away from Gori there is settled Gorijvari, on the Gorijvari mount. The climate is mild,winter is usually moderately cold, with little snow, summer-very warm, dry. A lot of people from different corners of the country used to visit this place for vacations and to improve health conditions. Nowadays, there is a bathhouse operated in Gorijvari.
Near here is Tana, or Ateni gorge. Other than curing profile, the gorge is noted for many materials and cultural monuments. At the beginning of the gorge, there is a Jamjama rocky massif from where wonderful views both on Tana and Dzama gorges unfold. Also, there is one, very beautiful Biisi waterfall. Gorge of river Tana Waterfall freezes in wintertime. In the beginning of February a festival of climbing up on the ice is usually organized here in which the best mountain climbers and amateurs participate.
10 km from the town Gori is located Uplistsikhe, on the left bank of the river Mtkvari. This is the only monument in Georgia, which nowadays remained above the surface of the ground. The town has streets, squares, water drainage ducts, various constructions, four gates, secret tunnel leading to river Mtkvari, a fence and so on… Today, the fortified town is an outdoor museum. The name means the “Fortified town of a ruler” in Georgian language.
Kintsvisi Monastery is located in 3 km from the village of Kontsvisi, Kareli region, on one of the highlands of the gorge of river Dzama. The monastery complex consists of churches f St. Nicholas, Virgin Mary, St. George, remnants of a fence and a two-level built-in bell tower. It was founded on the edge of XII-XIII centuries by order of the Royal court. The most important building of the complex is the center-domed cathedral of St. Nicholas. The painting of Kintsvisi performed at the beginning of the XII century on special order of Mtsignobartukhutsesi (the royal chancellor) Anton Glonistavisdze, is really outstanding.
Surami fortress is also very popular tourist sightings. Located on the bank of river Suramula, in the Southern part of the settlement. The complex includes wall, fortress, tower, palace and the St. George Church. As every fortress, this fortification also had a secret tunnel, leading into the depth of 12-16 m. During the years, Surami fortress was one of the important reinforced facilities in the nation and mentioned in the Annals as a “Strong Tower”.